2 June 2007
East Hokkaido Trip 2007 #2
We got up early on the 3rd day to check out the woods near Furen-ko. The woods at Shinkunitai (sp?) are currently inaccessible (a storm last year blew trees onto the boardwalk) so we went to a different location just a couple of miles away. It was a great location. If you could imagine a perfect forest this would be it. Tolkienesque and full of birds. Japanese Robin were abundant s were Eastern Crowned and Sakhalin Leaf Warblers, Bullfinch, Red Flanked Bluetail, 5 species of Woodpecker including White Backed and this male Black Woodpecker.
As difficult for a novice like me to get a decent pic of as the ones at Onuma. Why can't they be as easy as this Coal Tit?
We then headed north up to Shiretoko via Notsuke-hanto, a well known coastal spit. Very handy for pics of Japanese Crane and White Tailed Eagle.
There were also quite a lot of waders around. Eastern Curlew and Mongolian Plover (in summer plumage) were new for the trip but surprisingly I didn't see any Redshanks (this being one of the few places where they breed in Japan). I saw lots last year here . Actually there were far fewer birds than last year (it was a week earlier though plus wthe previous winter had been much colder than this time round). In 2006 there were huge rafts of seaduck offshore of 6 species. This time there were only a few small groups of Scaup and Black Scoter. Much nicer weather in 2007. We walked down to a popular tourist attraction. Some dead trees. And they looked just like dead trees. That was 40 minutes of my life I'll never get back.
We the headed up to Shiretoko for 2 nights camping. It was here things began to go awry. It was because of these animals.
The campsite was ok. It was actually only a few hundred yards away from where we'd seen several Brown Bear last autumn. The campsite was protected by a rather flimsy looking electrified fence (a smart bear however could just amble up through the main entrance). It didn't stop the deer though. And here lieth the problem. After quite a lot to drink my wife saw some deer at night and came running over to tell me. Unfortunately she tripped over the guy rope and broke a small bone in her ankle (we only found the latter fact out today). That severely curtailed any activity for the rest of the holiday. I have to say it's getting funnier now I look back on it. Blame it on those deer.
This deer looks like a kangaroo.
Birds around the campsite included more Woodpeckers (Black being the best), Woodcock, lots of White Rumped Swift, the ultra cute Hokkaido race of of Long tailed Tit as well as the common Warblers and Flycatchers. Several White Tiled Eagle flew over and at night we could hear an Owl (Ural Owl I think).
Shiretoko is a beautiful place and is (almost) unspoilt. It's better in autumn scenery wise though.
Amazingly a river in Japan with no concrete in view.
Whilst in Shiretoko we went to Tofutsu-ko. This is a lagoon supposedly good for birds. Several White tailed Eagle were here, a few Long tailed rosefinch plus a smattering of the commoner Ducks and waders. We were too early for one specialty (Middendorf's Warbler), another specialty doesn't seem to occur anymore (Yellow Breasted Bunting) and I couldn't find the other 2 (Yellow Wagtail and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker). There were lots of Black Browed Reed Warblers everywhere.
And that was it for birding. The weather closed in and next day we headed south in rain and heavy fog to central Hokkaido. We stayed one night near Minami-Furano (in a log hotel with the best food I've eaten in Japan) and drove back home the next day. Just 150km from Hakodate this happened.
A puncture. Thank the lord we had joined JAF (Japanese Auto Federation) last week. A man came and fixed the wheel and we got back late last night.............